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Right Of Way Guidelines In Ontario

Driving Tips
jason-baxtorJason Baxter

Right of way guidelines and laws are one of our most important ‘rules of the road’. Without them, drivers would not know whose turn is next to proceed through intersections, and around pedestrians, school buses and emergency vehicles. And if everyone decided at the same time that it was their turn, well, we wouldn’t get too far without having an accident.

5 Basic Right of Way Guidelines

If we all stick to the following right-of-way guidelines, we’ll all get where we’re going with much less chance of being in a collision before we get there.

1. Yield to Pedestrians

Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing at a marked crosswalk.

2. At Intersections With No Lights or Signage

When arriving at an intersection with no traffic lights or traffic control signs, you must yield the right of way to all drivers who arrived at the intersection before you. When all of those drivers have moved through the intersection, you have the right of way and it’s your turn to drive through the intersection. In cases where two drivers arrive at an intersection at the same time, the driver on the right has the right of way as if they arrived at the intersection first.

3. At 4-Way Stop Intersections

When arriving at a 4-way stop intersection, you must yield the right of way to all the drivers who came to a full stop before you. When all of those drivers have moved through the intersection, you have the right of way and it’s your turn to drive through the intersection. In cases where two drivers stop at the intersection at the same time, the drivers on the right have the right of way as if they stopped at the intersection first.

4. Entering a Roadway From Streets with a Yield or Stop Sign, or from Private Roads and Driveways

At any intersection where you want to turn left or right onto another roadway, you must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians before proceeding. If you are turning left, you must wait for approaching traffic to pass or turn and for pedestrians in or approaching your path to cross from either direction. If you are turning right, you must wait for pedestrians to cross if they are in or approaching your path from either direction and yield to oncoming traffic until there is an opening in the traffic large enough for you to enter the roadway safely.

You must also check your blind spot for cyclists approaching from behind, on a sidewalk or a trail — especially if there’s a bike lane to your right and you are turning right. A yield sign means you must slow down or stop if necessary and yield the right-of-way to traffic in the intersection or on the intersecting road.

5. School Buses & Emergency Vehicles

When approaching a school bus that has its upper lights flashing, whether you approach from in front or behind the bus, you must stop a safe distance away from the school bus, leaving enough space for children to safely exit the bus and cross the road in front of you.

Generally speaking, if emergency vehicles, including ambulances, firetrucks and police vehicles, with flashing red lights (or red and blue lights) and sirens activated, approach your vehicle from any direction, you must do the following: 

  • slow down 
  • signal right
  • safely move to the right, as close as possible and parallel to the right side of the road, and stop as soon as it is safe to do so

On one-way roads, you may also slow down, signal left and move over to the left and stop when it’s safe to do so.

In intersections, regardless of which lane or direction the emergency vehicle is coming from, all vehicles must yield to the emergency vehicle. Do not stop or pull over in the intersection. If you have already entered the intersection when you see or hear the emergency vehicle, continue through the intersection, then safely slow down, signal right, pull to the right and stop the vehicle.

If you plan to make a left turn in an intersection and an emergency vehicle approaches from behind, do not make the left turn. Instead, proceed straight through the intersection and follow the procedure for safely pulling over to the right and stopping. 

If you have received a traffic ticket for a right-of-way infraction, including failing to stop for a school bus, failure to yield and failure to yield to a pedestrian, if you are convicted, you potentially face stiff fines, demerit points, licence suspensions and increased car insurance rates.

So you owe it to yourself to protect your rights the best you can. The experienced X-Copper team of former police officers and traffic ticket lawyers understand the laws, enforcement methods and court processes. They have helped many drivers who have been charged with right-of-way violations to get the best outcomes possible.

To find out about the penalties for not giving emergency vehicles the right of way, check out our article Pull Over for Emergency Vehicles or Suffer These Penalties.

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